Local hockey star finishes memorable third WHL season
It’s been a rollercoaster year for Airdrie’s Ty Rattie, and it ended with the young forward signing his first, entry-level NHL contract with the St. Louis Blues, June 1.
“It was one of the best days of my life,” he said. “Signing that contract, it’s like ‘I did it. I’m finally here.’ You never think the day will come when you sign your first NHL contract. I’m getting excited just talking about it.”
Over the course of the past 12 months, he was drafted into the NHL, became one of the WHL’s top scorers, got cut from the national junior team and helped lead the Portland Winterhawks back to the WHL finals.
While the ‘Hawks were denied a trip to the Memorial Cup for a second year in the row by the Edmonton Oil Kings, it was a breakout season for Rattie, his third with the team. He raced to the top of the league’s scoring this year, finishing the season with 57 goals and 64 assists in 69 regular season games.
Winterhawks Head Coach Mike Johnston said that Rattie’s point production wasn’t the only aspect of his game that improved.
“His game became much more rounded,” Johnston said. “He took a big step after coming back from (the Blues’) camp. He saw the level of play and what he was going to have to do to be a pro, and he took it as a challenge.”
Johnston also cited Rattie’s chemistry with linemate Sven Bartschi as a reason for Rattie’s increased scoring and a driving force behind the team’s deep playoff run. According to Rattie, the connection with Bartschi extended away from the rink, as the two lived together this season.
“We’re best friends,” he said. “The off-ice chemistry and how much we do with each other really helped what we do on the ice. At home, we probably watched about 100 NHL games together this year, so seeing stuff like that and applying it to our game really helped us out.”
Rattie’s scoring also translated to a flood of individual accolades for the 19-year-old. He won the WHL’s Western Conference Championship Series MVP award and was named to the league’s Western Conference First All-Star Team.
He also broke a Winterhawks franchise record for career playoff goals and tied another after scoring 10 goals in the first round playoff series against Kelowna.
As successful as Rattie’s season was, it wasn’t without its adversity. He was invited to the World Junior Selection Camp in December, but received the dreaded, early morning phone call on the last day of camp telling him he had been cut. Rattie was forced to watch from home as Team Canada won the bronze medal.
“I said that day that I wasn’t going to watch (the tournament), but I had to. It’s a tradition. The silver lining is that I still have one more year and that’s my major goal this year: to make Team Canada and go to Russia with them.”
Rattie was already on a point-per-game pace heading into junior camp midway through the season, but he used being cut from Team Canada as an incentive to keep that pace heading into the second half of the season.
“I used that as motivation trying to prove them wrong big time,” he said. “I was trying to prove to everyone that I belonged (with Team Canada). I wasn’t a big believer in proving people wrong before this year, but now that I’ve (been) through a bit of adversity, I think I’m a huge believer in it now.”
With the ink drying on his contract, Rattie will try for spot on the Blues’ roster at the team’s training camp in August. It’s a move he hopes will stick, at least for a couple games.
“They said they want (me) to come and battle for a spot on the team, but they said ‘you have to prove it,’” Rattie said. “They believe in me and they think I can do it, but it’s in my hands, so as long as I prove myself, I think I’ll hopefully be there for a least a bit of the season. That’s a goal of mine.”